Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects how a person perceives the world around them. It can affect how a person relates to people and how they communicate with them; it changes how a person experiences their surroundings. Since autism is a spectrum condition, many autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. For example, some autistic people will have mental health issues or learning difficulties while others will experience different conditions and at varying degrees.
Over recent years, different diagnostic labels have been developed such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Aspergers Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism (HFA), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). However, most autistic people feel as though their autism is a fundamental part of them as a person.
People from all nationalities, cultures and social backgrounds can be affected by autism. However, studies have shown that it is more prevalent in men than in women.
Some autistic people have difficulties in interpreting verbal and non-verbal forms of communication such as gestures or facial expressions and often take a literal understanding of language, which can make it difficult to use or understand facial expressions, sarcasm and tone of voice. Other autistic people can have difficulties recognizing and understanding other people’s emotions and intentions while expressing their own. This can make social interaction difficult for them and/or cause them anxiety. They can appear to be insensitive or behave in a way thought to be “socially inappropriate”, they may also seek out time alone when overloaded by other people and not seek out comfort from other people.
The world can become overwhelming and confusing to some autistic people, which is why some prefer to have certain daily routines to help manage the chaos around them. For example, they may want to always shop in the same store or always travel the same way to and from school. People on the autistic spectrum may not always be comfortable with the idea of change and prepare in advance for said change.
Autistic people often have highly-focused interest from a young age and with encouragement, they can channel their interests into volunteering, learning and paid work. Many autistic people say that pursuing their interest is essential to their happiness and wellbeing.
Since it is autism awareness month, you should try and spread understanding about autism or donate to a charity that is supporting autism (not AutismSpeaks; it is a hate group) such as:
- The National Autistic Society (UK)
- Jewish Autism Trust (International)
- World Autism Organisation (International)
- Autism Society Of America (USA)
- Action For Autism (India)
- The Dutch Autism Society (The Netherlands)
- Autism Western Cape (South Africa)
- Autism Society Canada (Canada)
- Masyarakat Peduli Autisme (Indonesia)
Autistic people don’t need a “cure”; they need your love and support so that they can live a fulfilling lifestyle of their choice.